When asked which commandment is the greatest, Jesus answers
“thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” Mark 12:30
What a detailed commandment. Is it possible to even love God in these four ways? Where does one start?
We’ve covered loving the Lord with all your heart, and loving the Lord with all your soul. Next we’ll cover loving the Lord with all your Strength. But today, we’re focusing on loving the Lord with all your mind.
What does that mean? How can we do that?
When I looked at this question myself recently, I asked myself a couple of questions: What do I do with my mind? How do I control what I do with my mind? I think these are excellent places to start.
What do you do with your mind?
Our minds are where we keep our thoughts. These thoughts control our feelings, our actions, and our ability to learn. When thoughts are controlled and focused, they lead to learning and greater understanding.
Some thoughts we are well aware of, while others are just automatic and perhaps not understood or even acknowledged.
Repetitive like-minded thoughts can lead to self confidence, or cause us to become fearful.
While there are a few basic functions our brain does for us to keep us alive and moving that we don’t have to think about–like making sure our heart beats and we still breathe even when we go to sleep–it’s the conscious part of our mind that shapes our lives.
Our thinking is responsible for who we will become, where we live, who our friends will be, how mature we become, and just about everything about us.
What we do with our minds is think–and that thinking shapes us, determines the choices we will make, and determines who we are. Is it any wonder that God tells us to control our thinking?
take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5
How do you control what you do with your mind?
We each have the ability to control our thoughts–maybe not when we’re dreaming, but certainly when we’re awake.
There is no doubt that at times it’s hard to exude the fruit of self-control, but it’s possible. We’re all going to have times when it seems out of reach, but the more we practice this technique, the easier it will come to us the next time we need it.
But where do we start?
1. Get help from above.
We all need help. Mind control is hard–even when it’s our own.
When we ask Jesus to be our Lord and Savior and invite Him to come live inside our hearts, He sends His Holy Spirit to do just that. Can there be a more powerful form of help than having God the Spirit inside us whispering to our hearts?
After you’ve got the power of the Holy Spirit inside you, pray. Every time you fall, pray. Every time you are tempted, pray.
There is no limit to God’s power. When He commands us to take control of our thoughts and we ask for help while we’re trying our hardest, He will not leave us to flounder through it alone. Don’t expect all your troubles to go away, but know that He will not forsake you as long as you seek Him with an honest heart.
2. Understand that it is possible to control your thoughts.
Perhaps you’ve been in such a spiritual battle that you can’t imagine having control of your own thoughts. All is not lost.
God does not command us to flap our arms and fly, or any other task we obviously cannot do. He gives us commands that although may be hard, we are able to keep. You’ve got to trust every word He tells you.
If this is hard, write down 2 Corinthians 10:5. Put it on an index card in your back pocket. Laminate it and keep it in your purse or checkbook. Whatever you have to do, meditate on it and ask Him to bring it’s truth to your heart until you understand completely that what He is asking you to do is doable.
3. Have an arsenal of Holy things to fill your mind with.
Have a plan. We do this in our character building lessons with my children. We practice scenarios where they might become angry, jealous, vengeful, etc. And then we discuss how to change our feelings. We list good things we could think about instead.
For example, little Joey may get mad when little Mikey takes a toy away. Instead of getting angry and hitting little Mikey, I ask little Joey what he could think about or refocus on instead of being upset. This prepares him.
And what are the things he’s encouraged to think about? Godly things. Things like, I’m glad my friend Mikey can enjoy that train too. I’ll go get another one for me.
When our minds are full of Godly things to think about, it becomes more manageable to swipe our hurtful thoughts with holy ones.
Studying God’s Word and committing it to memory gives us a large armory of ammunition to use against any temptations we face.
4. Avoid situations (and people) who will tempt you to fixate on unhealthy thoughts
It’s that straight forward. I have a friend who when she feels lonely or angry, speaks unkind words about the people in our lives. If she spoke to me on a day when I was upset, I saw very quickly that my thoughts became upset with the same people. I started to find faults in them as well. Soon we were both speaking unkindly of people in our lives.
I talked to her about this a few times, and we came to both understand it. We prayed over it. Yet the problem kept resurfacing.
Loving the Lord with all my mind, means controlling my thoughts about the people He loves as well. In those moments, I was choosing to let my thoughts wander into not-very-loving thoughts about people He adored. I was no longer controlling my thoughts. Sadly, I realized I had to stay away from this dear friend as a means of controlling my thoughts.
5. Repent and start over
Jesus was our guilt offering. While conviction is a gift that helps us to mature when we respond to it appropriately, we are not meant to live with guilt.
When thoughts are out of control, we must repent with an honest heart, and start again in a different direction.
How is controlling our thoughts loving God with our mind?
When we are able to control our thoughts and make them Holy, we begin to mature to where we love the things, people, and situations that God loves.
He wants us to love each other. Controlling our thoughts to a point where we look at other people like He looks at them, is the best place to start.
Are you loving God with all your mind, or just part of it? What are other ways you have found to specifically love God with your mind?